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75% of Healthcare Organizations Fall for Ransomware Attacks – Sophos Report

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Sophos, a global leader in innovating and delivering cybersecurity as a service, on Thursday shared its sector survey report, “The State of Ransomware in Healthcare 2023,” which revealed that, among those organizations surveyed, cybercriminals successfully encrypted data in nearly 75% of ransomware attacks.

This is the highest rate of encryption in the past three years and a significant increase from the 61% of healthcare organizations that reported having their data encrypted last year.

In addition, only 24% of healthcare organizations were able to disrupt a ransomware attack before the attackers encrypted their data—down from 34% in 2022; this is the lowest rate of disruption reported by the sector over the past three years.

“To me, the percentage of organizations that successfully stop an attack before encryption is a strong indicator of security maturity. For the healthcare sector, however, this number is quite low—only 24%. What’s more, this number is declining, which suggests the sector is actively losing ground against cyberattackers and is increasingly unable to detect and stop an attack in progress.

“Part of the problem is that ransomware attacks continue to grow in sophistication, and the attackers are speeding up their attack timelines. In the latest Active Adversary Report for Tech Leaders, we found that the median time from the start of a ransomware attack to detection was only five days. We also found that 90% of ransomware attacks took place after regular business hours.

“The ransomware threat has simply become too complex for most companies to go at it alone. All organizations, especially those in healthcare, need to modernize their defensive approach to cybercrime, moving from being solely preventative to actively monitoring and investigating alerts 24/7 and securing outside help in the form of services like managed detection and response (MDR),” said Chester Wisniewski, director, field CTO, Sophos.

Additional key findings from the report include:

·       In 37% of ransomware attacks where data was successfully encrypted, data was also stolen, suggesting a rise in the “double dip” method

·       Healthcare organizations are now taking longer to recover, with 47% recovering in a week, compared to 54% last year

·       The overall number of ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations surveyed declined from 66% in 2022 to 60% this year

·       Compromised credentials were the number one root cause of ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations, followed by exploits

·       The number of healthcare organizations surveyed that paid ransom payments declined from 61% last year to 42% this year. This is lower than the cross-sector average of 46%

 “In 2016, the Red Cross Hospital of Córdoba in Spain suffered a ransomware attack that reached servers and encrypted hundreds of files, medical records and other important patient information. It was a major disruption to our operations and interfered with our ability to care for our patients.

“The stakes are high in ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations—and attackers know that—meaning we’ll always be a target. After this ransomware attack, we worked hard with Tekpyme to bolster our defenses, and now we have reduced our incident response time by 80%.

“I think the industry as a whole is making improvements, but there is still work to do, because of the constantly changing nature of cybercrime.

“Hopefully healthcare organizations can leverage the help that is available from security vendors such as Sophos to prevent a very real ‘threat to life’ if systems go offline due to a ransomware attack,” said José Antonio Alcaraz Pérez, head of information systems and communications at Cruz Red Andalusia in Spain.

“Cyberspace today is ripe with technically sophisticated actors looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. What all this translates to is a multidimensional cyberthreat of actors who have the tools to paralyze entire hospitals. Partnering with the private sector is critical to our mission. The information [they] share has real-world impacts and can save real businesses and real lives,” said Christopher Wray, FBI Director.

Sophos recommends the following best practices to help defend against ransomware and other cyberattacks:

·       Strengthen defensive shields with:

o   Security tools that defend against the most common attack vectors, including endpoint protection with strong anti-ransomware and anti-exploit capabilities

o   Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to thwart the abuse of compromised credentials

o   Adaptive technologies that respond automatically to attacks, disrupting adversaries and buying defenders time to respond

o   24/7 threat detection, investigation and response, whether delivered in-house or by a specialized Managed Detection and Response (MDR) provider

·       Optimize attack preparation, including regularly backing up, practicing recovering data from backups and maintaining an up-to-date incident response plan

·       Maintain security hygiene, including timely patching and regularly reviewing security tool configurations

 To learn more about the State of Ransomware in Healthcare 2023, download the full report from Sophos.com.

The State of Ransomware 2023 survey polled 3,000 IT/cybersecurity leaders in organizations with between 100 and 5,000 employees, including 233 from the healthcare sector, across 14 countries in the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific.


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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NCC Temporarily Suspends Issuance of New Licenses

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has temporarily suspended the issuance of new licenses in some categories.

NCC Temporarily Suspends Issuance of New Licenses

The commission said the categories included interconnect exchange license, mobile virtual network operator license and value added service aggregator license.

Reuben Mouka, director of Public Affairs, NCC,  in a statement in Abuja on Friday, said the commission acted in line with its powers under the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003.

“This temporary suspension is necessary to enable the commission to conduct a thorough review of several key areas within these categories, including the current level of competition, market saturation and current market dynamics.

“The public is invited to note that during the suspension period commencing on May 17, new application for the aforementioned licenses will not be accepted.

“This is without prejudice to pending applications before the commission will be considered on their merits.

“Any enquiry or clarification in respect of this suspension notice should be forwarded to: [email protected],” NCC said.

 

 

 

 


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Cable Cuts Expose Vulnerabilities in Africa’s Internet Infrastructure

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The vulnerability of East Africa’s countries was starkly revealed once again in the aftermath of the damage inflicted upon an undersea cable, leading to widespread internet outages across the region.

Cable Cuts Expose Vulnerabilities in Africa's Internet Infrastructure

According to Business Day Africa, this incident marks the third cable cut this year, plunging millions of users in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda into a state of connectivity limbo.

The disruption caused by the severance of two vital submarine cables- the East Africa Submarine System (EASSy) and Seacom, resulted in significant delays in internet access, so much so that operations at the US embassy in Dar es Salaam had to be suspended.

EASSy spans a staggering 10,000 kilometres along the eastern coast of Africa, boasting nine landing stations strategically positioned in Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, and South Africa.

Tanzania bore the brunt of the outage, experiencing the most severe disruptions, as evidenced by data from the Internet Outage Tracker, compelling the embassy to halt its services for a period of two days.

This latest incident follows a series of challenges earlier this year when connectivity in East Africa was hampered by damage sustained by three submarine cables traversing the Red Sea.

Internet users in East Africa have been grappling with intermittent connections since Sunday, May 12, 2024.

The International Cable Protection Committee attributes the damage to a probable encounter with the anchor of a cargo ship, allegedly targeted by the Yemen-based Houthi rebel group.

However, repair efforts have been impeded by ongoing tensions surrounding access rights to the affected waters.

Commenting on the situation, Bright Simons, research lead at the IMANI Center for Policy and Education in Ghana, lamented the lack of a comprehensive regional framework for telecom emergencies in East Africa, according to SemaFor news.

He noted that despite the region’s advanced regional integration initiatives, similar to those seen in the Southern African Customs Union and Francophone units, the absence of such mechanisms has left operators scrambling to establish ad hoc cross-border arrangements.


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Nigeria’s Omoniyi Ibietan, elected Secretary-General of APRA

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Omoniyi Ibietan, Head Media Relations at the Nigerian Communications Commission, fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and African Public Relations Association (APRA), has just been elected the Secretary-General of APRA at the ongoing 35th Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting taking place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Ibietan has promised to work with other members of the Executive Council to continue the trajectory of reforms in APRA, expand the democratic space by encouraging greater participation of national public relations institutions on the Continent and work more closely with the African Union Commission and Council of Ministers to put public relations at the heart of policy, programmes, and project implementation. Ibietan was elected into a three-man Executive Council. The other two members are Arik Karani (Kenya), President, and Dr. Michele Mekeme (Cameroon), Vice President.

OMONIYI P. IBIETAN is a journalist, writer, and author. As Head of Media Relations Management at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), where he oversees aspects of the public communication strategy of the national regulatory authority for telecommunication in Nigeria. Earlier in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, he was Special Media Advisor to the Federal Minister of Information and Communication.

He has over 20 years of experience in media and communication scholarship and practice, spanning journalism, academia, policy discourse, communication strategy, regulation, and stakeholder relations.

He earned BA and MA in Communication Arts and Communication & Language Arts from the Universities of Uyo and Ibadan in Nigeria, respectively, graduating atop his classes. Earlier, he obtained a diploma in journalism with distinction from the Moscow-Based International Institute of Journalism.

He holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the North-West University in South Africa, with specialisation in political communication. He is a IP3 certified regulation specialist and holds a mini MBA in telecommunications from NEOTELIS in Paris.

He is also a member of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE), an Associate Registered Practitioner of Advertising (arpa) and member of the International Institute of Communications (IIC), the world’s only policy debating platform for the converged communications industry.

As a scholar, he focuses on patterns of political communication through new media; media and culture studies; and theoretical & normative foundations of communication in relation to democracy and freedom. He is on the faculty of the Nigerian campus of Italy-based Rome Business School (RBS), where he teaches doctoral students PR & Advertising and Media Management & Communication Strategy. He also facilitates learning to students in the Master of Corporate Communication programme at RBS.

His first book, SOCIAL MEDIA, SOCIAL DEMOGRAPHY, AND VOTING BEHAVIOUR IN NIGERIA, was published by Premium Times Books in Washington in May 2023.

He has travelled extensively in Africa, North America, Europe, and Asia.

He is married, has children, plays tennis and scrabble, loves reading and writing, and loves meeting people, especially people from other cultures.

At the ongoing conference, Ibietan presented the first paper at the commencement of business sessions. The title of his paper is DIGITAL INCLUSION AS ARBITER OF ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC RELATIONS: A CASE OF NIGERIAN COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION.

Using Castells’ Theory of the Network Society and the Knowledge Gap Theory and based on the actions of the Nigerian government through the activities of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ibietan advanced a thesis that digital inclusion is the arbiter of digital public relations.

Through implementation of laws, policies, guidelines, developmental regulation, collaborative partnerships, social investments, operational efficiency and ancillary actions that are consequential and quantifiable, and using copious pictorial evidence, Omoniyi discoursed a perspective that NCC’s digital inclusion programmes, projects and activities are foundational to digital economy because investment in and coordination of expansion of digital infrastructure, demonstrating their affordances and enhancing people’s access to such resources, constitute the building blocks and raison d’être of digital economy and inherently digital public relations.

APRA, the successor to the Federation of African Public Relations Association (FAPRA), instituted in Nairobi in 1975, exists to foster unity of Africans and their global allies through interactions and exchange of meaning. Pivoted on standardisation of public relations practice and scholarship on the Continent to enhance its relevance to the African reality, APRA member states and individuals meet annually at a location in any of its regional centres (East, North, South, West, Central, Indian Ocean Islands, and Francophone) to have a conversation with a thematic focus on any of its key intervention areas (Health & Education, Economic Integration, Good Governance, Tourusm & Leisure, and Infrastructure Development). This year’s theme is ‘ONE AFRICA, ONE VOICE: BRIDGING AFRICA’S COMMUNICATION DIVIDE’.

APRA Côte d’Ivoire 2024 is endorsed by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, the Holding Opinion & Public (THOP), and major global PR associations, namely the International Public Relations Association (IPRA), The International Communications

Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA), the African Union Commission (AUC), and PR national associations across the continent.

Additionally, the conference featured the eighth edition of the Innovation Summit (IN2SUMMIT) and includes the seventh edition of the SABRE Awards Africa, holding tonight.

The APRA secretariat is in Nigeria, and the body maintains an observer status with the African Union.


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